Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
From coal to broadband to Trump’s budget, The Daily Yonder reports on rural life for the people actually living it
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Jan. 8, 2014, 2:51 p.m.

That’s the summary of a new paper by Piet Bakker, probably the world’s top analyst of free newspapers. (PDF here.) Remember how, a few years ago, some thought that Metro and others of its free ilk would sweep into the space paid dailies were leaving behind? It didn’t work out exactly that way.

The abstract:

Free newspapers may offer different news contents to different audiences, when compared with traditional, paid-for newspapers, but they, nevertheless, concentrate on news, and thereby provide society with information on current affairs.

These papers have seen circulation rise until 2008; after that, a decline set in, leading to closures and often a monopoly situation in the mature European newspaper markets covered in our research. Free newspapers seem to follow a typical life cycle pattern, moving from growth to maturity, and to saturation and decline. Diversification strategies — home-delivery, weekend, sports, afternoon, and financial — have been disappointing so far.

There is no evidence, however, of total extinction, indicating that there is room for at least one title — possibly two — in every market. The situation in the surveyed markets also suggests that a free newspaper may be a ‘natural’ monopoly.

There are a lot of charts with shapes that look like variations on this one:

free-newspapers-chart-piet-bakker

His conclusion:

There is a place for this business model for news and journalism, although it will probably not be the dominant model, and the place for the model seems rather small.

The paper’s published in the Danish academic journal Journalistica; you can download the issue free here, but note that all but one of the articles are in Danish, Swedish, or Norwegian.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 35,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
From coal to broadband to Trump’s budget, The Daily Yonder reports on rural life for the people actually living it
“Rural is like good art — you know it when you see it.”
Want a calmer place to discover and discuss The Washington Post’s reporting? Try this Facebook group
“There’s a reason the group’s called PostThis — we want people to take stories we share there and actually post them to their own networks.”
Word up! This is the story behind The New York Times’ most famous tweet (which is 10 years old today)
“Once a month or so, that damn tweet would resurface.”